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Jupiter Ascending: a movie review

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Mila Kunis as down-on-her-luck cleaning woman Jupiter Jones and Channing Tatum as Caine Wise, an interplanetary warrior, standing together with the planet Jupiter in the background from the official theatrical poster for the space opera movie from Warner Brothers (Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures)

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Jupiter Ascending is a rather preposterous, yet somehow entertaining, movie built around a winding plot and stunning visual effects. In what follows, I will attempt to give a brief synopsis of that journey (please bear with me).

Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, the daughter of a poor, immigrant widow from Russia, who works with her family cleaning the homes of Chicago’s wealthy. She dreams of a different life only to find out that she is the reincarnated matriarch of one of the universe’s most powerful families. She makes this discovery when she is saved from murderous aliens by Caine Wise, a wolf-man hybrid played by Channing Tatum. Following a harrowing escape and subsequent capture, a sequence of events that will play out multiple times before the film is over, Jupiter learns more about her origins and the family business that is the source of their power.

Each of her three children, born to her in her previous life, controls a series of planets that are periodically “harvested” for the genetic material of their inhabitants. This material is then used to reverse the effects of aging and, in essence, grant immortality. It is an understandably booming industry, but one that necessitates the lives of those harvested as being inherently inferior to others in the universe. Her children each see Jupiter as a threat to their own holdings and set about attempting to either use her or kill her according to what serves them best. Ultimately, Jupiter finds the peace she lacked at the start of the film and a sense of comfort in her identity.

While that search for identity is something each of us can relate to, that is not the aspect of this movie on which I would like to focus. Rather, I would like to address the question that motivates much of the film’s plot: What is an individual life worth? Whether it is Jupiter’s struggle to find value and worth in her own life or the way in which those in charge of the harvests have come to view their own lives as inherently superior to those they destroy, the question of worth is an issue each character must address.

By the end of the movie, the value of each life is clear but no reason for that value is given. Rather, it seems as though that realization should simply be understood as fact. Such a conclusion is true, but incomplete. The truth is that each of us was created with the belief that our lives should be worth something. While some come to doubt this truth, at least some shred of recognition remains in each of us. Ultimately, we believe this because our creator has placed that belief in each of us.

You see, your life is inherently valuable because it is a gift from God. He created you because he loves you and desires to have a relationship with you. You are valuable because the creator of the universe says that it is so and has instilled that value into every atom of your being. You can undoubtedly find other sources of worth that will seem validating for a time, but they will all ultimately prove lacking if your identity is not grounded first and foremost in a relationship with your heavenly Father. Is God the source of your worth today? Never doubt that he longs to be and needs to be that source if you are to live with the kind of sustaining, fulfilling purpose he created you to have. Find your worth in him and you will never have reason to doubt your value again.